Cllr Gregor Murray, Executive member for Climate Emergency Wokingham Borough Council writes part 8 in a series on tackling the Climate Emergency
As a Borough, we throw away about 70,000 tonnes of waste every year. That works out to be roughly 1 tonne per household, similar to the weight of an adult rhino.
Around 57% of that waste gets recycled, mostly paper, cardboard, plastic, metal and food waste. That figure is good, and is better than most of our neighbouring authorities, but there is still so much more for us to do.
We have set a target of reaching 70% recycled by 2030. Our waste strategy, which will launch in the coming months, will set out our plan on how to get there.
As part of this strategy, we are also setting ambitious targets for cutting the amount of waste we create as a Borough, and for sending zero waste to landfill.
With waste, there are four key actions for Wokingham Borough Council, for all our local businesses and for all of you at home to work on. They are Rot, Recycle, Reduce, and Reuse.
Rot: As a Council, we collect both food and garden waste. This waste is taken away and allowed to decompose, with food waste giving off gases that is then turned to energy, and garden waste is turned into compost. But you don’t have to rely on the Council – many gardeners know the value and benefit of home composting.
Recycle: While our recycling rate as a Borough is already very good, there is a simple truth that there is still more we can do. Take the contents of our blue waste bags. 24% (7,200 tonnes) of the contents of those bags remains cardboard or paper, while another 8% (2,400 tonnes) is food waste that could be recycled but is still being thrown away.
Reduce: We have to reduce the amount of waste we create. Even while we have been working to increase our recycling rate, the average volume of waste each house across the Borough generates has increased. This shift in behaviour won’t be easy, but it is essential if we are to live in a more sustainable Borough. Reducing waste starts by simply buying less, and when we do buy, buying products without excess packing. An easy way to do this is to have less delivered. You could challenge yourself, and your family, to half the number of blue bags you put out each week, and challenge yourself to half the amount of food waste you create. Much of our food waste come from items, such as fruit of vegetables, being bought but never cooked or consumed – so reducing your food waste will also help you save money of food shopping. Water is also a valuable resource and it’s important to reduce the amount we use. Some easy ways to do this are to: shower for a minute less each day; only fill the kettle with the water you need; and fix dripping taps straight away.
Reuse: Glass deposited at bottle banks gets melted down and then reused as bottles and other glassware. Glass collected at the doorstep, unless manually sorted, tends to get crushed and used as aggregate in road surfacing. This is the reason we don’t have curb side glass collections. There are other household items that can easily be reused as well. Nationally and locally, we throw away a lot of items that could be used by others: clothes that we have grown out of, or are ripped, can be reused. Paint can be recycled at the Re3 recycling centres; so can old toys, electrical items, furniture and other items. Many community groups exist to connect new users with items we no longer want; for example, there are Freecycle apps, and many Facebook groups. There are also many charities that will resell items you no longer need.
Next week: What can we all do?
Last week - Let's talk about sustainable living